Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Graham Parker!
Let’s get one thing straight:
These three English musicians are classified under ‘pub rock’, or in the case of Nick Lowe who has been called ‘powerpop.’
Anyone who believes this can just stick it up their ‘pub.’
THIS IS PURE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. I think Graham Parker said it best, “By the time we got to “Squeezing Out Sparks” (1979), we were doing something completely different. Something only an idiot would call pub rock.”
It didn’t matter if Nick sounded punk or country. It didn’t matter if Dave was into 60’s country or Chuck Berry. It didn’t matter if Graham Parker was influenced by Bob Dylan, reggae or soul music. The end result was always just rock ‘n’ roll. Another funny thing is that these three guys (at least in their early years) didn’t even dress like rock ‘n’ rollers (maybe Graham with his cool shades?) One thing they all had in common is what I like to call the Stiff Style. Let me explain. Stiff Records (thank God) gave a home to musicians that no other label would absolutely ever touch. Everybody on that label was a musical misfit. A picture is worth a thousand words. Look at that cover of the LIVE STIFFS album. It is a picture of Larry Wallis, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, and Ian Dury. The only one who looks like a real rocker is Larry Wallis. All the others did not look like rockers. But, boy could they drink ‘n’ roll. Wreckless Eric looked to me like Ralph Malph from the “Happy Days” T.V. show!
That was the beauty of Stiff…they just DID NOT give a ****. Having said all this, it was Elvis Costello who became the biggest act who ever recorded for Stiff.
OK, here are some facts ‘n’ picks:
1) NICK LOWE~
His best LP would be 1978’s Jesus Of Cool. It was titled Pure Pop For Now People in the U.S.A. It had a slightly altered front cover, completely different rear cover and slightly different track list than the UK one. Usually, the UK version blows away the U.S.A. version. NOT IN THIS CASE. The U.S.A. one flows much better. This (to me) can also be called a ’77 classic punk album. Actually, a record company called YepRoc reissued this album as a 2 LP set in 2008. It included both versions and ALL the B-sides and some extra punky tracks. It even has all the original artwork for both versions. It sounds better than ever and comes on 180 gram vinyl.
(Ed. Note: In May of 2012, there was even a very limited repress on Red/Yellow vinyl with a FREE download card. It’s ‘sold out’ already)
2) DAVE EDMUNDS~(Love Sculpture/Rockpile)
This guy didn’t do too many bad records (or productions for that matter). Things really started to get weird around 1983 after he released the Information LP. Everything before that; he could do no wrong. Information does have a few killer tracks, but it had some overproduction on it (and synths~yik!). As far as I’m concerned, his best stuff was probably the 4 records he did in a row for Led Zeppelin’s “Swan Song” label from 1977-1981. They are:
1) Get It (1977)
2 Tracks On Wax 4 (1978)
3) Repeat When Necessary (1979)
4) Twingin’ (1981)
My favorite is 1977’s Get It and 1979’s Repeat When Necessary (his best selling for Swan)?
I have a friend who swears by Dave’s country-ish LP called D.E.7 (his first for Arista).
I’ll tell you man, “Get It” is the best record he ever, ever did.
3) GRAHAM PARKER~
This guy is very talented, but to be truthful…he only had 3 killer albums. They are:
1) Squeezing Out Sparks 1979 (RIGHTFULLY CONSIDERED HIS GOD)
2) Howlin’ Wind (June 1976)
3) Heat Treatment (October 1976)
I tend to like Howlin’ Wind better because it has (what I would call) his best ever song: “Don’t Ask Me Questions” with Brinsley Schwarz playing killer lead guitar. Also on that LP was the punky rockin’ out “Back To Schooldays”. I think in America, Heat Treatment pretty much got him recognized with some airplay? Incidentally, Brinsley Schwarz was home to one of Nick Lowe’s first professional bands. He sang lead and played bass for them. Pick up their Greatest Hits LP/CD if you ever see it? It is kind of sad that Graham never did anymore classic albums and no one has reissued any of them because (I reckon) there just isn’t the interest? He is a real talented songwriter though, and I’ll tell you: there are at least 3 or 4 killers songs on every LP he’s done. His last (I believe) radio airplay hit was 1985’s “Break Them Down” from his only album on Elektra Records…Steady Nerves. I think it is safe to say that Elektra Records dropped him from the roster? If you were smart, you would order the Rhino Records remastered 2CD Anthology called “Passion Is No Ordinary Word”. The sound is absolutely killer and all the killer songs are here. God only knows how much eBay is charging for that Australian LIVE. E.P. called, The Pink Parker? It came on a SOLID HOT PINK COLOR back in 1978? Another weird thing is that his U.K. label (Vertigo) actually issued three different greatest hits albums in 6 years (which I have thankfully collected, somehow?) Starting in 1979, there was High Times. In 1980 there was one called The Best Of Graham Parker & The Rumour. Then in 1984, there was one called It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Ain’t Got That Swing. The dumb thing is that they all had pretty much the obvious songs on them, and all three were only slightly different to each other. And now, you can’t find any of his cool records the way you used to be able to, it seems? The misfortune of Graham Parker is that he had Mercury Poisoning and could never be on STIFF for very long. I’m sure he would be more of a legend if he was part of that LIVE STIFFS tour? He will always be a STIFF in my mind. In fact, I think all three of these guys are more punk than many punks…if that means anything?
Let’s get back to Nick Lowe here for a second. Yes, he was the punkest of these three guys…not forgetting two things:
1) He produced the 1st punk album ever issued (Damned Damned Damned by The Damned, 1977)
2) His lyrics included, “she was a winner…who became a doggie’s dinner; she didn’t mean that much to me”. Nick had his biggest AM pop chart hit in the U.S.A. in 1979 with Cruel To Be Kind. The LP that it is on (Labour Of Lust) is another solid rock ‘n’ roll album. Then he got together with Dave Edmunds and did the absolutely fantastic Seconds Of Pleasure album under the name Rockpile. Then there were a couple of other good albums and then 2 very country things which were still quite good.
Here is your tip-of-the-day:
Nick did an LP for Reprise in 1990 called “Party Of One”. It has Dave Edmunds playing all over it and is the closest he has ever gotten to the feel of 1978’s Jesus Of Cool”. IT ROCKS! Just pure good ole rock ‘n’ roll played in different styles with Dave Edmunds having a ball and being the guitar hero.
Even Nick’s last 3 LP’s have been critically acclaimed. Catch him playing live at your favorite California Winery NOW?
Sample some of this…..Rock ‘N’ Roll……and love your vinyl!